Be careful of the men in the North. That sounds like a Game of Thrones reference, but it was actually well-intentioned advice that so many people gave me when they heard I was visiting Rajasthan and Delhi.
This was my third trip in as many months (#teacherlife) , and it was quite ambitious. I was visiting a state I had never been to before, and what I was really worried about, was the fact that I would be spending New Year’s in a place where I knew no one. It was a big deal. This trip was the longest and least planned for trip I had ever been on.
I was in Mumbai with my family for Christmas and soon after, I took the very comfortable 13 hour train to Udaipur. I got out of the station and booked an Uber (#swag) and even though the driver decided to take me via the scenic route, I was as close as he could drop me to my hostel in no time. Bunkyard and The Journey were both hostels that had come highly reccomended from travelers I had met , and I decided to go with Bunkyard, as there were no beds available in The Journey.
Arul the manager was super efficient and I was soon checked in and free to do what I wanted. Which was nothing. Udaipur has this slow , peaceful vibe which compels you to take a step back and spend some time just taking in the view. Which was truly spectacular. Sunset over the lake was amazing and I was very happy I had chosen to spend New Year’s in Udaipur. Beer Pong was on in the common room that evening, and I was actually part of a winning duo, which was another misconception about myself quashed. My hand-eye coordination did not totally suck.
The next morning I got up as early as I could to visit the Palace, which, as it turns out, was too early. I spent some time on breakfast of parathas and lassi and then went back to the palace and was one of the first people in. I guess being early really paid off as I was able to piggy back a little on none other than Madhuri Dixit (and family)’s tour. They started off with relative ease with no security in sight but by the end of it, the news had traveled fast enough for her to need escorts and a golf cart of sorts to get her out. I think as much as I enjoyed seeing her, I enjoyed the reactions of other people when they realised who they were in the company of. Most vividly, a wizened old guard who asked me if the woman coming his way was really Madhuri Dixit, and then stood up a little straighter with wonder in his eyes when I replied in the affirmative. Once a movie star, always a movie star when you’re in India!
The Palace was my sightseeing for the day and I returned to the hostel soon after. The hostel is literally five minutes away from the Palace so it wasn’t much of a walk.
I decided to spend time in the common room in my pyjamas with my earphones in…. But after about five minutes I told myself I had to talk to people or I would be forced to spend New Year’s in my pyjamas, with my earphones in.
A couple of guys were playing what seemed to be a complicated game of cards, so I asked if I could watch and later join in. I watched for about two rounds and I had still not understood it fully but I joined in anyway. Chinese Poker is great if you can remember your cards. And everyone else’s. It was fun while it lasted but after around ten rounds we called it quits and went back to our respective corners. After a bit Thomas asked if we wanted to get lunch and Amog and I agreed and we walked to a nearby restaurant that Thomas had eaten at. Over lunch we talked about what we did for a living and what had brought us to Udaipur. It was a fun conversation and just like that, I knew people in Udaipur.
After more lazing and another spectacular sunset, I met Irene, said goodbye to Tulio, and we made dinner plans. Dinner was interesting and there was never a dull moment as we all talked about the most random things possible. We walked back to the hostel and played some Jenga before turning in.
The next day I joined Irene at a free (donations only) Yoga session which was a new experience for me. On one hand I did stand on my head, but on the other hand I was told I had “too much stomach”, so I’m not exactly sure how to classify that experience. I had an energy bar for breakfast and then set out to check out Fateh Sagar Lake.